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Videos spark scrutiny of Pasadena youth boot camp

October 28, 2011 |  8:02 am

Pasadena boot camp
Several teen boot camp instructors in Pasadena have come under scrutiny after two videos surfaced showing harsh treatment of participants.

The videos, obtained by the Pasadena Star-News, were created about two years ago.

One shows Kelvin “Sgt. Mac” McFarland forcing children to drink a lot of water. Several are seen vomiting as a result.

The other video shows a boy crying as he carries a truck tire around his shoulders. McFarland and three other instructors are shown screaming at the boy and teasing him to say he “loves his sergeant.”

At least one of the instructors was reportedly on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps at the time, according to the Star-News.

McFarland was arrested May 27 and charged with kidnapping, child abuse, false imprisonment, extortion and unlawful use of a badge after a truant student was allegedly handcuffed in Pasadena, according to court records.

McFarland then allegedly told the girl’s family he would take her to a juvenile detention center if the family did not enroll her in his Family First Growth Camp, according to court records.

McFarland, a Monrovia resident, told the Star-News that he was not in either video.

He acknowledged they existed, but said the instructor involved was Keith “Sarge” Gibbs, who operates another Pasadena boot camp called Sarge’s Community Base/Commit II Achieve Boot Camp.

Gibbs is not seen in either video, but his voice is heard off camera in one recording, the Star-News reports.

Gibbs denies being present during the filming. The rival boot camp operators, who both have served in the military, used to work together.

They parted ways in 2009, when McFarland failed to pass a background check and was accused of inappropriate training tactics, Gibbs said.

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-- Esmeralda Bermudez

Photo: An image from a Pasadena boot camp video. Credit: KTLA-TV.

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